How Much Do Registered Nurses Make? | Salary Data

Registered nurses play an essential role in the healthcare system.

Fundamentally, they’re responsible for ensuring optimal patient care throughout the united states and making up most healthcare professionals.

Moreover, the growing demand for experienced nurses allows most RNs to earn a decent salary.

How much registered nurses make per year varies by state.

Income is also impacted based on work experience, education, career field, overtime pay, etc.

This article explores a nurse’s annual salary, the factors that affect their incomes, and why they earn what they do.

Average Nurse Salary and Hourly Wages

Registered nurses’ money per hour varies from $30 to $45.

Nevertheless, experienced professionals make significantly more compared to newer employees.

They also earn additional income through working overtime.

According to, registered nurses earn approximately $11,250 in overtime pay annually.

A registered nurse’s average base salary is roughly $78,500.

However, this varies depending on the state they work.

Also, how much overtime, holiday pay, and bonuses a nurse earns impacts their salary.

Finally, registered nurses that work in high-paying specialties earn significantly more than general registered nurses.

To illustrate, nurse anesthetists regularly earn six-figure yearly incomes.

Other advanced practice registered nurses such as clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwife and certified nurse practitioners earn excellent incomes.

Factors That Impact a Nurses Salary:

  • Education level (ASN/ADN, BSN, MSN, DNP degree)
  • Work Experience/length of employment
  • Location (New York, Texas, California, Illinois, etc.)
  • Career Specialty (i.e., RN, travel nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse entrepreneur, etc.)
  • Overtime, holiday compensation, double pay, and bonus incentives

As you can see, nurses’ wages are motivated by various aspects of their careers.

Registered nurses can earn six-figure incomes with the right experience, work location, specialization, and dedication.

Lastly, determining a nurse’s average salary can be extremely difficult.

Various websites utilize different data to determine a nurse’s average income.

As a result, depending on the website you read, their average salary varies by thousands of dollars.

I’ve done my best to provide accurate nurse salary information.

Please review BLS.Gov’s registered nurse median pay for information on RN salaries.

Registered Nurse Salary Based on Location

In the US, the average salary for RNs is around $75,500, according to

With that said, (in 2021) RN’s living in the highest paying state (California) will earn an average RN salary of approximately $113,000 (based on

Conversely, RNs living in the lowest paying state (South Dakota) earn an average RN salary of $59,500.

Exceptional circumstances, such as a crisis, pandemic, or nursing shortage, can significantly raise a nurse’s salary in particular locations.

When combined, the right factors (work location, specialization, negotiated wages, overtime pay) can significantly increase an RNs salary.

As a result, they can easily earn more than $100,000 per year.

While not always the case, highly populated cities like New York City and Las Angeles bring higher wages/salaries for registered nurses.

Conversely, rural areas often pay less due to the lower demand for nurses in their area.

Part-Time Salaries for Nurses

Wages/salaries for part-time nurses vary compared to full-time employees.

Employers determine employees’ part-time hours and benefits based on their needs.

In turn, this impacts how much a part-time nurse earns.

Part-time nurses work anywhere from 10 – 30 hours per week or operate on a per diem basis.

It means work schedules fluctuate weekly unless there’s a standardized schedule.

Moreover, employers have some control over what constitutes full-time employment.

For instance, the institution can determine that nurses working 30 hours per week are full-time employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act states that (non-exempt) employees paid hourly are required to receive overtime pay for employees who worked over 40 hours.

It includes part-time employees.

Most organizations and professions within the United States consider 30 – 40 hours of work per week to be full-time.

Also, as defined by the IRS, full-time employees work on average 30 hours or more per week.

It provides employees with higher wages, regular hours, and healthcare benefits.

Unfortunately, part-time employees may not receive the same benefits because they do not work the required hours an organization has set.

In other words, part-time registered nurses may not receive the same pay and benefits full-time registered nurses receive.

Nursing is in high demand, and many institutions offer competitive wages and benefits for highly qualified nurses.

As a result, part-time nurses can still make a high income and benefit from suitable employers.

What Goes Into a Nurse’s Salary?

People unfamiliar with nursing commonly ask, “why do registered nurses make so much money?

We’ll dig into various factors influencing registered nurses’ income to understand this question.

Registered nurses require years of training and education acquired through schooling and real-world experience.

It isn’t an easy task as thousands of students apply for nursing school each year, and seating is limited.

As a result, nursing school is competitive, and candidates must show excellent skill, knowledge, and dedication.

Those who become registered nurses provide essential care to patients suffering from injuries and illnesses.

It includes ensuring patient safety, managing treatments, administering medications, collaborating with healthcare workers, documenting healthcare records, and managing numerous other tasks.

They also educate patients about their condition, provide feedback on their recovery process, and answer questions regarding their condition.

Fundamentally, the nursing profession constitutes most healthcare workers in the US and is vital for ensuring optimal patient care.

Without their assistance, hospitals, healthcare centers, doctors’ offices, and other facilities would be incapable of handling patient demand.

With that said, the most common factors influence a nurse’s salary.

Education and Career Specialization

Registered nurses spend years in nursing school acquiring skills necessary to perform their jobs effectively.

As a result, they’re a significant part of healthcare.

Nurses who further their careers and acquire advanced degrees become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

APRNs prescribe medication, act as primary care providers, and even open clinics at this level.

On average, APRNs earn six figures annually due to their extensive knowledge and scope of practice.

It includes certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse-midwives.

With that said, APRNs require special education, training, competency, and patient care responsibilities.

It can take many years to master before working effectively in their specialization.

Besides APRNs, registered nurses specializing in emergency care, education, administration, law, and entrepreneurship establish considerable salaries.

Registered nurses provide high-level patient care invaluable to countless healthcare fields through increased education and training.

State of Employment and Facility Location

As mentioned previously, the location a nurse operates in influences their salary.

It’s because of numerous factors, including job demand, cost of living, and the state’s average employment wages.

Furthermore, nurses working in dense metropolitan areas usually earn more than nurses in rural settings.

As a result, nurses’ employment state and location impact their salary.

Work Schedule and Overtime

The more hours a nurse works, the more money they generally take home.

It’s especially true when it comes to working overtime. Consequently, nurses that put in extra hours can significantly increase their earnings.

Also, working on holidays, earning double time, and committing to particular work schedules provide opportunities for increased hourly pay.

Those who work as registered nurses know overtime is a common theme at many healthcare facilities.

Staffing shortages, employee burnout, unexpected increases in patient administration, and other factors contribute to overtime.

It isn’t uncommon for nurses to work 60+ hours per week in some locations.

Combine overtime, holiday compensation, and bonus pay, and it becomes apparent why they may make more than other professions.

Contractual Agreements

When nurses are employed, they negotiate their salary, benefits, and even healthcare coverage with their employer.

Depending on the agreements, a nurse’s salary may be significantly affected.

To earn a higher income, nurses may take undesirable shifts, work in demanding departments, and agree to specific work assignments.

Furthermore, nurses earn higher salaries by filling vacant positions that require extra dedication and skill.

James & Mo Vlogs discuss how she earned nearly $300,000 as an emergency room nurse by committing to working challenging hours!

Supply and Demand

Registered nursing is constantly in high demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing is one of the fast-growing professions.

Between 2019 and 2029, the estimated job growth for registered nurses is approximately 7%.

Numerous factors contribute to the growing demand for nurses.

It’s partially due to older employees filing for retirement.

An aging population, employee burnout, a growing economy, and other factors also influence the shortage.

As mentioned by NCBI, 11 million nurses are needed to prevent further decline.

Without enough qualified registered nurses, many individuals in need of healthcare would have difficulty receiving medical treatment.

As a result, waiting times, employee stress, and patient rehabilitation suffer.

To fill these nursing positions, healthcare organizations entice nurses with higher wages and better benefits.

It helps them provide the quality of healthcare they need to ensure that patients adequately and promptly.

As a result, everyone is happier, less stressed, and able to perform their job responsibilities.

In summary, the demand for nurses is higher than the supply.

Conversely, if the surplus outweighed the demand, wages would stabilize or steadily decline.

Competition to Attract Experienced Nurses

Healthcare facilities looking to hire the best nurses offer generous salaries and benefits.

As a result, facilities may increase wages to compete with other institutions.

Highly educated and trained nurses who advance their career/salary may change facilities for better opportunities.

Therefore, healthcare facilities looking to retain their staff or hire new specialists can lead to salary/wage competition.

The Demands of Registered Nursing

Not everyone wants to become a registered nurse and deal with their responsibilities daily.

Registered nurses take care of patients dealing with an illness or injury.

They’re responsible for managing patient records, providing medical and emotional support, and working extended hours.

This job is challenging for those struggling with life and death circumstances in critical conditions.

Being able to remain positive regardless of the situation is extremely challenging.

Nurses must also take continuing education courses throughout their careers to ensure they are up-to-date on nursing practices.

Beyond that, RNs deal with the physical and mental demands of work.

They must consistently be alert to ensure they provide proper patient care while presenting a positive attitude in the worst situations.

Those who work as RNs face challenges day in and day out.

But, in many cases, they do the work and decide others don’t want to.

As a result, they are paid well for their efforts and keep working in their profession.

Cost of Living Compensation

If RNs didn’t make good money, many would leave their job or change professions altogether.

Consequently, this would lead to further increases in the nursing deficit many states face.

Moreover, healthcare facilities would provide a lower standard of care for millions of people.

While some states offer higher salaries, they also have a higher cost of living in many cases.

As a result, the extra income helps them offset the higher living costs in that state.

Even in states where they make $20,000 – $30,000 more, the increased living costs nullify a portion of financial gains.

Therefore, they must determine whether the increased pay makes up for the state’s cost of living.

To keep nurses working and loyal, their employers offer competitive pay and compensation to those living in expensive areas.

It balances the higher tax rate and living cost and reduces the odds of leaving for another employer.

Are Nurses Paid Weekly or Bi-Weekly?

Whether nurses receive weekly or, bi-weekly pay depends on the healthcare organization.

Some healthcare facilities provide RNs with weekly income due to their finainal setup.

Other organizations will pay nurses on a bi-weekly basis.

Most nurses also receive direct deposits regardless of whether they obtain weekly or bi-weekly paychecks.

Although less common, some institutions offer RNs monthly pay.

In other words, they only receive one paycheck every four weeks.